Kerala House, host to ivory deals (India)


G. ANAND, The Hindu

Date Published

The ivory products that were confiscated from a house in New Delhi on Saturday.

Arrested dealer ‘Eagle’ Rajan stayed there for extended periods for business
nknown to authorities, Kerala House in New Delhi was for years the “base camp” of ivory dealer “Eagle” Rajan.
Cocooned in its relative security, he transacted business for years with other north Indian wildlife trophy dealers linked to rich collectors in the country and abroad, according to forest investigators.
Umesh Agarwal was among Rajan’s prominent clients.
The arrest of the duo on Saturday led Chief Conservator Amit Malik and conservator Narasingha to a huge stash (488 kg) of elephant tusks secreted in a warehouse in a slum colony in Vikas Nagar. The tusks will be brought to Kerala by flight on Monday.
‘Sponsors’ identified
Investigators said Rajan had stayed for extended periods in Kerala House.
They have identified the persons who “sponsored” his stay there.
Enforcers said it was possible that Rajan met his contacts and transacted his business in the safe environs of Kerala House. They were verifying whether Rajan’s “official hosts” had any stake in his business.
Investigators also found that Umesh had transferred crores of rupees to Rajan’s account from the branch of a nationalised bank in New Delhi.
Importantly, they have identified at least two more persons who were among Rajan’s most important clients.
They have also got an insight into the economics of the Kerala-centric white-gold trade in the country.
Poachers led by Aiykkara Vasu, who killed wild elephants for their ivory in the Malayattoor and Kuttumpuzha forests, sold their tusks to middlemen like Silva Priston in the capital for Rs.20,000 a kg. To distance himself from poachers and stay away from the radar of law, Rajan procured the tusks for Rs.60,000 a kg through frontmen like Aji Bright.
Through another set of proxies, Rajan gave the tusks to traditional artisans who moonlighted as ivory carvers for a high fee. Persons like Agarwal supplied the designs for the ivory figurines, which are sold at inestimably high prices to rich collectors.